4. Mario Bava
Most visually stunning films: Black Sabbath (1963), Blood And Black Lace (1963), Kill, Baby, Kill (1966)
Before Dario Argento made the deaths in Italian horror look beautiful, Mario Bava, the country’s original scary movie titan, captured the attention of wannabe filmmakers and hoity-toity critics alike. Once he stepped away from black-and-white films, Bava set the precedent for lavishly designed murder; in the high-fashion slasher movie Blood And Black Lace, for example, the images of women’s being drowned in bathtubs and having their faces pushed onto burning lamps beam with the starkness and glow of freshly painted canvas illustrations.
Oddly enough, damn near every filmmaker who’s been influenced by Bava (Argento excluded) have completely misunderstood the appeal of his artistic slashers; whereas the hacks behind every slice-’em-up horror flick revel in a kill’s gore quotient in order to pummel weaker-stomached viewers into hurling, Bava was more concerned with hypnotizing eyes into reveling in the carnage, not revolt away from it.